nameDid you know there’s a field of study devoted to origin, use, and history of proper names? It’s called Onomastics. What’s more, the person who studies it is called an Onomast. The Onomast is into all names — from people and places, to animals, roads, and even chocolates. As you read in yesterday’s post, many names originated as meaningful words for occupations. Joe the Baker became Joe Baker. His son Joe Jr. might have been called Joe Bakerson. The Bakers throughout Europe became Bakker, Bager, Pagar, Boulange, Besitzer, Panettiere, Rzecz, Padeiro, Mierii, Panadero, and Pobydd. 

There’s so much more under the large umbrella of Onomastics. In fact, there are many fields of study associated with it.

Did you ever stopped to think anthropologists, archaeologists, and sociologists would study names to learn about human societies, past civilizations, or for evidence of social change? I really never gave it much thought until my husband developed his genealogy hobby. While family genealogy hobbyists hunt down clues to their past, historians study names for evidence of the past such as settlement areas and migration patterns. There’s even a branch of name study called philology that looks to names for clues regarding lost or early languages. Lexicographers also get into names and study them for the words and word meanings that names are comprised of. Who knew geographers combed names for evidence of early landscapes?

Today I’m peeking into the fields of geography and lexicography and talking place names, or more formally, toponyms. I can’t possibly list them all without blowing my blog to smithereens, so this is only a short list. Many show up with prefixes such as Ab, Di, Du, O’, Fitz  and others have suffixes such as son, sen, dze and ski. Many surnames have both.

he people who lived by water could take the name Brook, Beck, Brooke, and Rivers. The following are toponyms for four key geographic features:

rroyo, Hooker, Horne, Beeks, Bach, Bachmeier, Burnes, Beverly, Bachmann, Puro, Head, Ruisseau, Patak, Crawford, Ford, Ewart, Daugherty, Rzecz, Marsh, Sanka, Moeras, Marais, Marécage, Sumpflander, Sands, Sandford, Seymore, DiPalude, Pantano, Acquitrino, Lavlanderson Baader, Lago, Ware, Dalgalar, Walton, Blackburn, Poole, Meer, Newport, Lamar, Eau Claire,  Rush,  Llyn, Vance, Witmore

Dyffryn, Valle, Vale, Dale, Dolina, Wied, Slėnis, Valatti, Gleann, Glen, Glenn, Ebene, Laakso, Dahl, Craft, Bently, Combs, Coombs, Dean, Harden, Harley, Marsden, Ogden, Stainthorpe, Westley, Summerfield, Winterbottom

Mountains and hilly ground
Fjell, Hora, Bjerg, Brandon, Berg, Berger, Mägi, Vuori, Montagne, Monceau, Montana, Montagna, Monte, Haight, Bray, Hull, Huff,  Brent, Hyland, Hill, Radcliffe, Hills, Kulle, Colline, Colina, Wzgórze, Helling, Haug, Heuvel, Attenberg, Cantrell, Downs, Downer, Harlow, Underhill, Salita, Winslow

Forest, woodlands, and fields
Houtman, Ash, Greene, Hollins, Holt, Ashe, Holly, Beasley, Boyce, DuBois, Buckley, Delaney, Fay, Shiel, Forrester, Haywood, Lockewood, Woods, Wood, Hurst, Garland, Gore, Hayward, Hays, Hayland, Rhodes, Roscoe, Selby, Shaw, Stroud, Timberlake, Vernon, Timberlane, Wooton, Woodward, York

That was exhausting. lol And that’s just a drop in the ocean of names. If you’d like to see what your own surname means, try Ancestry.com Your name might be a toponym.


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Another 100 Things Blogging Challenge! For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Words on the Verge of Extinction. There are 92 entries to come.

Here’s one for today:

Sinapistic (adjective 1879)

consisting of mustard

Hump Day Hook

Horny Hump Day


First Kiss Wednesday

4 Us iconToday we have a guest blog with author Amber Skyze

All through January the RB4U authors are doing interviews. The thoughtful questions are a great way to get to know us. Commenting that day gives you a chance to win a collectable t-shirt. Come see!

Right now the COLD SNOW, HOT ROMANCE CONTEST is on! Three winners will each receive a $25 gift card for Amazon/Barnes & Noble, and split the other prizes randomly picked from prize list. Be sure to check all our pages for news about authors and their books, publishers and their books, and industry representatives. http://www.romancebooks4us.com/


b1e43-eqpicToday is First Kiss Wednesday! Come share your best 300 word kiss.
Several promotional opportunities for romance authors can be found on my Exquisite Quills group blog. Meet the founding authors and our guests.


Exquisite Quills Yahoo Group

First Kiss Wednesday ~ share your best 300 word kiss.
Set the Scene in Six ~ share your backdrop or lead-up on Sundays.
The Genesis of a Book ~ share the spark that ignited your novel
Author Interviews ~
We’re booking late spring now.


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About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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4 Responses to Onomastics…huh?

  1. melissakeir says:

    I love looking up meanings of names. My family’s surname is Watling and it’s pretty famous…from Belle Watling in Gone With the Wind to Watling’s Pub in London…we got around. My husband’s family is from Scotland on both sides and the history there is amazing. Tartan prints and so many stories. 🙂

    • The tartans are worth a blog post all by themselves! I have MacKenzie in my background –green, blue, black, and white plaid. Have you discovered what Watling means? I get “pledge” when I look it up.

  2. vicki says:

    I had to look up two: Means which I knew was McMeans and Batman which we knew was servant. Yes, people, it is a real last name. lol thanks, Rose

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